(I promise there's a 'please' in there somewhere)
Today is the official day to talk about the r-word.
To you maybe it's just a word. An innocent grouping of letters. A seemingly cool way to distinguish things in your life that aren't awesome.
"That movie was so retarded!"
"Wow I look retarded in this dress."
"I can't believe you tripped in front of him! Retard!"
"I've never seen that team play so badly. What a bunch of retards!"
But to individuals with intellectual disabilities, this word means so, so much more. I challenge you to think about what your use of the r-word in such a fashion says about those with intellectual disabilities and what it might mean to them.
If you don't see a big deal with the word 'retarded' and find that you "need" it to pack a verbal punch in certain situations, I would love for you to take this quiz: Do You Get Why This Word Hurts So Much
If you think I'm being ridiculous by singling out this word, why don't you read what a grown man with Down syndrome has to say about it: A Word Gone Wrong
“The hardest thing about having an intellectual disability is the loneliness,” he once wrote in The Denver Post. “We are aware when all the rest of you stop and just look at us. We are aware when you look at us and just say, ‘unh huh,’ and then move on, talking to each other. You mean no harm, but you have no idea how alone we feel even when we are with you.”
“So, what’s wrong with ‘retard’?,” he asked. “I can only tell you what it means to me and people like me when we hear it. It means that the rest of you are excluding us from your group. We are something that is not like you and something that none of you would ever want to be. We are something outside the ‘in’ group. We are someone that is not your kind.” -A Word Gone Wrong, New York Times
As a mother of a child with an intellectual disability, I beg you to please help make this world a more respectful place one word choice at a time.